Women's Soccer
#22 Illinois Triumphs Over UC Santa Barbara 1-0

Senior Shayla Mutz netted her first goal of the 2012 season. The tally stood as the eventual game winner as
Senior Shayla Mutz netted her first goal of the 2012 season. The tally stood as the eventual game winner as

Aug. 24, 2012

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The University of Illinois soccer team moved to 2-0-1 Friday night when the Orange and Blue knocked off UC Santa Barbara 1-0 to kick off their California road trip . Illini Shayla Mutz tallied the game-winner with a header in the box at the 9:44 mark with Kristen Gierman recording the assist.

"Both teams played a similar style in terms of possession and defending well," said interim head coach Jeff Freeman. "There were portions when it was jammed in the midfield as both squads looked to keep the ball. When we broke through though we established some really good chances."

The Illinois attack showed no signs of jet lag, grabbing the early 1-0 lead off of a throw-in around the 10 minute mark. Senior Shayla Mutz scored her first goal of the young season on a header. The tally was her 10th career goal with the Illini. Senior captain Kristen Gierman was credited with the assist after redirecting the ball into Santa Barbara's box with her head. Gierman earned her first assist and point in her collegiate career.

"I was thrilled to manufacture a goal off of a restart. Gierman was able to keep the ball moving across the box as Mutz finished the play," said Freeman. We have been working on set pieces and it was nice to see it come to fruition." 

The Orange and Blue continued to push the tempo, putting pressure on the Gaucho defense and goalkeeper Makenna Henry. Nicole Breece, Kassidy Brown and Niki Read all recorded a shot over the next 10 minutes. Illini keeper Steph Panozzo had a relative quiet half, recording two saves. The Illini led the Gauchos in shots at half by a margin of 5-3.

The Gauchos started the second period on the attack with back-to-back shots within the first three minutes that went high and wide, respectively. Illinois remained composed as they countered with four shots of their own over the next 25 minutes. Nicole Denenberg's and Megan Pawloski's shots both sailed over the crossbar before Gierman recorded two headers on goal, forcing Makenna Henry to make the saves.

Illinois proceeded to earn goal scoring chances. The Illini received three corner kicks from the 72 minute mark to the 76th but could not deliver their second strike of the night. Illinois would not need it though as the back-line remained strong in the second half keeping the Gauchos scoreless. The Illini defense tallied five block shots in the final period, including two in the final three minutes of the match.

"I was really proud of our defensive effort tonight" said Freeman. "The back four played a fantastic game and proved to be a resilient bunch. We took a lot of pressure at the end of the match and we were able to get out of here with a win. I thought Aliina Weykamp was very good tonight for us as well."

Steph Panozzo earned her second shutout on the season recording two saves in the game. Panozzo is well ahead of her eight shutout games pace from a year ago.

The Orange and Blue remain undefeated against Santa Barbara moving the overall series record to 2-0-0. The Illini just edged out the Gauchos in shots 12-11, as Santa Barbara's Henry produced four saves in the game to keep the Illinois score at one. Furthermore, the Illini and UCSB tied in corner kick chances with four apiece. 

Illinois wraps up their weekend when they take on No. 5 UCLA on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. The Bruins moved to 2-0-0 tonight when they knocked off Fresno State 2-0. Sunday's contest will be their home opener.